Missouri study underway to identify species of ticks and pathogens statewide
A study is underway in Missouri to find out which species of ticks occur in the state to better identify the bacterial pathogens they carry. Matt Combes with the Missouri Conservation Department tells Brownfield Ag News half of the counties in the state have no information that can be verified.
Ticks that are gathered this summer and next will be tested for bacterial pathogens that cause human illnesses like ehrlichiosis and tularemia.
“Missouri’s landscape is perfect for ticks, right? They like that border between forests and grass. And if you look especially across northern Missouri we have a whole lot of that landscape and a whole lot of that landscape is farmed. Farmers are out in that all the time.” And, he says, so are high populations of tick prey including deer and racoons. Usually, Combes says, doctors prescribe an antibiotic for flu-like symptoms in the summer that could very likely be a tickborne disease. Blood tests are often not taken because they take time and can be expensive.
Deb Hudman with A.T. Still University, a private medical school in Kirksville, who is involved with the study, said her previous research in Adair County found 99% of people surveyed had experienced ticks attached to them and 38% had developed symptoms. Their diagnoses, she tells Brownfield, did not often match up with the bacterial pathogens she was finding in ticks and she’s crushed more than 100-thousand of them.
Hudman says their study will give them a database to help better deal with Missouri’s tickborne illnesses. She says they do know that Missouri is the leading state for ehrlichiosis.
Hudman says the top method for avoiding ticks is to spray clothing with the chemical permethrin, “What I found is the most affordable way is those spray bottles that you can pick up at WalMart or you can order from Amazon. You can get these spray bottles. I spray it on my socks and I spray it on my pants from the knees down.” She says there are safety precautions to take with the chemical which does more than deter ticks. And she recommends people treat their pets with the tick preventative Frontline.